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As COVID-19 vaccination lotteries gain popularity, could the Carolinas join in?

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 7:07 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Your odds of winning a million dollars playing the PowerBall aren’t that great - one in 11 million.

But Ohioans had four times better odds at walking away a millionaire just for getting the COVID-19 vaccination.

Lots of incentives are being tied to vaccines now to encourage people to get a shot.

As the demand for vaccinations starts cooling down, states and companies are looking for ways to heat interest back up.

“They see this and they’re like, well, you know what I’m. I’ve decided I’m going to get it now,” StarMed CEO Michael Estramonte said.

StarMed is doing a test run with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in giving away $25 gift cards to people getting a vaccine.

On Memorial Day, they were also giving away free double bacon cheeseburgers, but Estramonte said it’s the free money that’s pulling people in.

“We’ve been doing it for over a week now and some of our sites have experienced a 7, 8 times increase in the amount that they were doing from the week before,” Estramonte said.

But in terms of vaccine giveaways, the gift card barely registers with what else is out there.

Kroger is giving away $5 million in cash prizes to people getting vaccinated.

The State of Ohio just held a lottery for vaccinated residents. Five adults will win $1 million and five teenagers will win free college tuition to an in-state school.

It’s not clear yet whether that kind of incentive could come to the Carolinas.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told WNCN in Raleigh, “We’re certainly looking at what other states have done” while a spokesperson for South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said “the lure of a lottery jackpot is irresponsible and a poor use of taxpayer dollars.”

“Should just do it for free,” David Adams told WBTV at the StarMed vaccination site.

Adams said money didn’t drive him to the vaccine site on Tuckaseegee, but his friend Laurichard Jones.

Jones also said money shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether people take the shot.

“No, because life matters,” Jones said.

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